When all the little details and stresses of wedding planning begin to hit, purchasing wedding bands might not necessarily rise to the top of your "to-do" list. In the face of selecting a venue, providing music, feeding and sheltering your 200 closest friends and family members, and of course, worrying about weather on the big day, those little metal rings may begin to seem very inconsequential.
But stop for a moment and remember that wedding bands represent something that lasts far longer than the dancing or the music or the food - they represent your bond and love for each other, as long as you both shall live. Shopping for wedding bands creates a meaningful and memorable experience, and the many different choices and intricacies of rings require quite a bit of thought before a purchase. What design and appearance best represents you as a couple? What metals strike you visually, and how well do they hold up? Are you working with a budget, or is the sky the limit?
Discuss these questions, then sit down and browse through some rings online, or even head out for some window-shopping at your favorite jewelry store for more ideas. Couples quickly discover the sheer amount of choices available to them, and a little research and discussion goes a long way towards making a great wedding band selection. And remember to give wedding band shopping the time and attention it really deserves - many couples wear these rings every day for the rest of their lives. Take your time, and enjoy the process by making a careful and meaningful selection. Just like so many other parts of your wedding, you only get to live this experience once!
Aspects to Consider
First and foremost, couples should discuss a budget before heading out to shop for wedding bands. Depending on factors such as the type of metal, purity of the metal, elaborateness of the design, the store from which you purchase, and so on, prices range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands. Realize that deals always exist, so avoid ruling out a specific metal or design just because you hear about its notorious price as you may yet find a great bargain. Modern rings also frequently incorporate inlays or a combination of metals, creating more opportunities for compromise.
However, know that some metals such as platinum and white gold stay consistently more expensive. Today's market holds other materials of equal (or even higher!) durability and striking appearance, so don't despair if that particularly lovely band stays just out your budget - something equally beautiful and meaningful likely lies down the road. While gold, white gold, platinum, and silver remain classically traditional materials, research a bit and explore something new! Tungsten, stainless steel, and titanium represent increasingly popular options that once never even occurred to couples. You may end up surprised by what you find yourself loving.
Other elements that drive up the price of wedding bands include adornments of stones such as diamonds, engravings, and intricate patterns or designs. These help to make wedding rings distinctive and meaningful, but may also take them outside of your price range. Sit down with your fiancé and discuss your ideal ring and then your ideal budget, and make sure that the two overlap before you head out to the stores. Remember though, never to sacrifice quality for a lower price. Finding quality wedding bands at reasonable prices is not an impossible task, and this purchase must last for the duration of your life. A well-crafted, plain wedding band that still looks amazing in 50 years makes a much better purchase in the long run than an elaborate, gem-studded and extremely cheap ring that falls apart in 2.
The wedding band becomes an accessory for the rest of your life, and as such it should hold some personal meaning. When you pick a design or metal that says something about you and your partner, it makes the bands that much more significant. What words best represent you as a couple? Do you tend to stay more traditional, or do your friends and family consider you out of the box? Do either of you come from strong religious or ethnic backgrounds? Consider the significant influences in your life, and whether or not they deserve a place on your wedding band - little personal touches make rings truly unique, and entirely yours!
Below you will find images of rings, click the image to view more information on the wedding rings.
The plain wedding band
The plain wedding band speaks of a timeless, classic love that lasts for a lifetime. Traditional, understated, and very elegant, a circle of platinum, gold, white gold, or any other material of your choice represents one of the most common types of wedding bands. The plain band also works best for extremely hard materials, such as tungsten or titanium, that do not easily take stones, engravings, or patterns - in some cases, a plain band may present the most logical choice. Although free of elaborate decoration, a plain band still says plenty about your personality, just from its appearance - rock a modern look with black titanium, or sophisticated chic with white gold or platinum.
Wedding band with stones
What's more classic and romantic than a sparkling diamond? Traditionally seen on engagement rings, diamonds now adorn many women's wedding bands - after all, in the timeless words of Marilyn Monroe, diamonds are a girl's best friend. Classy, fabulous, and an all-around crowd pleaser, wedding bands might contain anything from a modest rock or two set along the side to a ring entirely covered by gems. Depending on the size and frequency of the diamonds, prepare for a more expensive purchase than you might otherwise encounter.
If diamonds rub you the wrong way, why not consider a different type of stone? Perhaps you hold an affinity for rubies, or maybe the first necklace your fiancé bought you contained aquamarine. Choose an unconventional stone with personal meaning, and enjoy an entirely unique type of wedding band that suits you perfectly!
Yet another alternative, cubic zirconia offers a drastically lower-cost selection that looks like an exact replica of diamonds. A colorless and flawless synthetic stone (two qualities very expensive to obtain in real diamonds!) and an ideal choice for any couple on a budget, cubic zirconia also comes with a few drawbacks. The stones contain less brilliance and sparkle than diamonds, and also rank lower on the Mohs Hardness Scale - they may actually shatter if hit against a hard enough surface. Both create viable options for wedding bands, and those looking with the naked eye find it difficult to notice any difference. Your personal choice may come down to an issue of budget - discuss the decision between the two of you, and decide which better suits your preferences.
The alternative wedding band
Today's couples can choose from just about any pattern or design imaginable, ranging from different textures (see Image A) to combinations of metals (see Image B) for a unique, visually striking appearance. Consider a woven effect, or perhaps something broken up with an unexpected stone or engraving. Some couples choose to represent their relationship with a symbol or image that may hold personal meaning to them - perhaps even something non-traditional, such as a repeated pattern of cacti (perhaps you both love western novels) or a skull and crossbones (pirate fans). While these may seem a bit out in left field, the point is to realize that the bands belong to the two of you, and no one else. Nothing is too silly, too wacky, or too weird when it holds personal meaning, so let your imagination run free!
Another unique style involves combining metals and colors to create a dramatic, two-tone effect. A black titanium band with bold silver lines, for example, immediately draws the eye, while a more subtle combination of titanium with a gold middle section offers a subtle beauty.
While certainly unconventional, these types of rings enjoy popularity because they allow couples to freely express themselves with anything from lighthearted symbols to edgy designs - it all depends on what you want to say!
The religious or cultural wedding band
If either of you come from a strong religious or ethnic background, why not incorporate those elements into your wedding band by design or engravings? Not only does such an element add personal meaning, it represents an important factor in your lives together. Many couples choose to engrave their bands with religiously significant elements such as crosses or Hebrew writing. This illustrates not only a devotion to each other, but also devotion to a belief that you both share!
If your family remains highly traditional and of a certain cultural background, a wedding band also makes a great canvas for integrating symbols and patterns. Of course, anyone can celebrate the beauty of designs from other cultures - Celtic patterns, for example, have steadily increased in popularity, and many people make meaningful connections with their symbolism.
Durability of the ring
It may seem an odd question to consider, but what do the two of you do for a living? This plays a huge role in the type of wedding bands you select, because some materials dent, scratch, bend and break significantly more easily than others. If you plan on wearing your wedding ring all the time, and work a very hands-on or rough-and-tough job, it won't take long for the wear to begin showing. All rings show signs of aging over time, such as scuffing, scratching, denting, and so on. However, some materials remain much more resilient than others, while many of the more traditional choices - gold, silver, and white gold - are soft metals that damage easily over time. Contemporary metals, including tungsten, stainless steel, titanium, and platinum resist dings and marks, making them ideal for tough jobs where they might take a beating. Consider the life of your wedding band, and the places and incidents it may encounter - then decide the level of durability necessary to make it last.
Match the engagement ring
While some couples buy engagement rings and wedding bands in sets, some choose to return later for the bands. If you plan on wearing your engagement ring and wedding band on the same finger, think about styles that compliment what you already own. A simple platinum band may balance well with a platinum engagement ring featuring a stunning diamond, while a gold ring studded with rubies may not. Consider purchasing a similar metal and a similar style, to avoid clashing rings on your finger. Some brides even choose to weld the two rings into one, in which case you might want to stick with a cohesive combination.
Of course, no set rules exist for this type of selection. If you prefer an entirely different look or plan on wearing only your wedding band after the ceremony, then choose whatever you prefer! At the end of the day, the ring should reflect your style and make you feel comfortable, so stay true to yourself and buy what you love.
Purchase with love
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, you should purchase any wedding band with love, attention to quality, and only after careful consideration. A $40 ring, when chosen with your fiancé in mind, holds just as much meaning as a $4,000 version. Know your partner, and take your time choosing the perfect band; after all, this ring binds you together for an entire lifetime.
Popular Wedding Band Materials
A traditional material for jewelry, silver appears white and shiny when new, and often comes at a much lower price than gold, white gold, or platinum. Sterling silver, a popular choice for rings, contains 92.5% silver, with the remaining portion typically composed of copper. Silver gives a beautiful appearance at a reasonable price, but also comes with several drawbacks.
A fairly soft metal (but still harder than gold), silver scratches easily and may not last long in everyday wear. If you work in a rough environment or know that your wedding band might take a beating, avoid purchasing this particular metal. The metal also tarnishes after a few years, turning darker and eventually even black. Easily fixed with a simple polish, jewelry stores offer assistance with cleaning more severe cases.
A very traditional material with a brilliant yellow color, gold looks stunning on your finger, but comes with a few drawbacks. While more and more couples move towards platinum, tungsten, and other alternative materials, some still prefer the classic appearance of gold wedding bands.
Due to its status as one of the softest metals on the market, jewelers frequently combine gold with other metals to make it more durable and long lasting. For this reason, couples often hear gold referred to in terms of "karats" - a measurement of the material's purity. Pure gold ranks at 24 karats, but a pure gold wedding band would quickly dent, scratch, and damage due to its extremely soft nature. Therefore, couples most frequently find gold wedding bands in measurements of 9, 14, and 18 karats. These numbers refer to the percentage of pure gold used in the wedding band - an 18-karat ring, for example, is 75% pure gold and 25% other materials. A 9-karat ring ranks at 37.5% pure gold, while a 14-karat ring ranks at 58.5% pure gold. Depending on the other materials combined in the ring, your gold wedding band may take on a different color and appearance - white gold, for example, combines gold and nickel to create a paler color, while yellow gold usually incorporates copper or zinc.
The higher the karat, the more expensive the wedding band - but also, the more easily it dents and scratches, due to the higher quantity of soft, pure gold. While customers traditionally place more value on higher levels of gold, stay conscious of how quickly you may scratch and bend your wedding band before making a purchase!
An increasingly popular replacement for more traditional yellow gold, white gold appears paler to the eye with a subtler yellow shine. Known by jewelers as an "alloy" (a combination of two or more metals), white gold typically includes a white metal such as nickel, palladium, or even platinum, which makes the wedding band more durable and gives it its unique color.
Couples generally choose white gold for its beautiful appearance, decent price, and reasonable level of durability. Due to its combination of metals, a white gold wedding band lasts much longer than a softer, 18 or 14kt gold version. Due to the recent high demand, and depending on the material combined with the gold itself, white gold tends to run at higher prices than gold (although still less expensive than platinum).
Extremely popular and extremely expensive, platinum is one of the rarer materials used in wedding bands (thus, driving up both price and demand.) With a beautiful, shiny white appearance, this classic material signifies luxury and class, as well as devotion from the giver! Too soft to create a durable wedding band on its own, jewelers frequently mix platinum with other materials to increase its strength. However, unlike gold wedding bands, platinum bands typically remain up to 95% pure with a finished product that still stands up well to abuse. Instead of taking material away, a scratch or dent merely shifts platinum, meaning a simple polish quickly restores it. More expensive than gold or even white gold, platinum holds a reputation as the choice for discerning couples around the world.
A more contemporary material, titanium creates durable and long-lasting wedding bands that stand up well to tough situations. Visually, it comes in a variety of finishes and even a striking black shade, perfect for making a statement at a reasonable price.
Extremely light on the finger, some couples choose titanium for its incredible strength to weight ratio, one of the highest available in rings. Frequently used for aircraft parts, this metal proves highly resistant to any kind of damage.
Due to the incredible strength of titanium, it also proves difficult to resize - in some cases, even impossible. Take extra care in measuring your size before ordering, as in the best of cases jewelers can make only minute adjustments. And despite any rumors you may hear about swollen fingers and impossible-to-cut-off rings, don't worry. While it requires more time and different equipment than a gold or silver ring might, a local hospital can easily remove a titanium wedding band.
Typically considered a man's wedding band material, stainless steel is incredibly tough, hypoallergenic, and cheaper than many similar-appearing metals, such as platinum. Long lasting and durable, it retains its shine for years while standing up against abuse and damage, a perfect choice for anyone with a labor-intensive or very hands-on job. Stainless steel is also a very common and easily obtained material, which helps drive its price down.
Couples should note that stainless steel, much like titanium or tungsten, remains very difficult if not impossible to resize due to its extreme strength. Measure your ring finger carefully before making your purchase! Stainless steel also feels heavy on the finger, which some find preferable and others dislike - ask to try on some different styles before buying.